One on the principals of Indian philosophy is that there must be a practical application of knowledge.
So knowledge (jñāna) goes hand-in-hand with spiritual practice (sādhana).
The technicalities of Spiritual Practice are handled differently in each of the schools but to start off with we’ll present the format of the biggest school which is Advaita.
The study of the Sacred Texts however profound, will at best, provide only a general knowledge which will help to refine the mind and incline one towards personal attainment of knowledge of the Ultimate Truth (Brahma-vidya).
Nevertheless, doubts will continue to rise and uncertainty will still remain, and determination and conviction (sraddhā) will falter; therefore, Bādarāyāṇa contends that it is necessary to study the Vedānta in order to have these doubts permanently removed.
The discipline of Vedānta fortifies the mind with the necessary arguments and critical thinking to help us avoid believing in false doctrines, until we grow firm in our understanding and experience direct realization.
Realization is a matter of unfoldment not of attainment. The pre-requisite for wisdom is the removal of certain negative and afflictive-emotions and concepts and the cultivation of the right disposition through the performance of Dharma, from study and association with those who are enlightened and are, therefore, capable of guiding us toward the ultimate goal.
The four-fold discipline to be practiced by the spiritual aspirant (sādhaka) consists of:
1. Viveka — right discrimination between the eternal and non-eternal, the real and the unreal. This comes from proper study and reflection.
2. Vairāgya — right dispassion and indifference to the unreal and transitory. This consists of renunciation of all motivation to enjoy the fruit of action both here and hereafter.
3. Ṣaṭ-sampat — right conduct, which consists of the six acquirements, namely:
· Sama — tranquillity or regulation of mind by the practice of withdrawing thought processes from worldly affairs.
· Dama — self-restraint or regulation of conduct, restraining the senses from externally directed action
· Uparati — tolerance and renunciation of all sectarian religious observances with the object of acquiring wisdom. Rejecting the efficacy of ritual in achieving mokṣa.
· Titīkṣa — forbearance, bearing heat and cold, fame and blame and transcending all other pairs of opposites.
· śraddhā — development of conviction that the practice will lead to the goal. This conviction should be grounded on logic and supported by reason.
· Samādhāna — balanced mental equipoise and attentiveness to the practice; freedom from torpor, laziness, and carelessness.
4. Mumukṣutva — right aspiration, which consists of earnestness to know the Ultimate Principle and thereby to attain Liberation from suffering now and future rebirth. This will come when one dedicates one’s entire life to this single goal.
There are three categories of aspirants who will accomplish their ultimate goal they are:—
1. Those who act with zeal and conviction.
2. Those who perform all actions for the good of all sentient beings.
3. Those who are continually immersed in meditation.
Author: Rami Sivan, Priest, Dharma teacher, counsellor, Gov. Advisor (1998-present)
May 1st 2020